Movie Review

Bruce Almighty

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual content and some crude humor

Reviewed by: Megan Basham
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 34 min.
Copyright, Universal Copyright, Universal
Relevant Issues
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God

God

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

What is the true God’s real plan? And is there hope for mankind? Watch The HOPE (very popular on-line film)

Does God really exist? How can I know? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

Is Jesus Christ God? Answer

If God knows I am hurting, why doesn’t He help me? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

How can I know the Bible is true? Answer

With so many denominations and religions, how can I decide which are true and which are false? Answer

more answers about the biblical God

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Lisa Ann Walter, Nora Dunn, Catherine Bell, Philip Baker Hall | Directed by: Tom Shadyac | Produced by: Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey, James D. Brubaker, Michael Bostick, Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Steve Oedekerk | Written by: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk, Michael O'Keefe | Distributor: Universal

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is having one of those days—actually it’s more like one of those lives. A local reporter in Buffalo, New York, his talent is showcasing the kind of touching, down-to-earth stories that leave his viewers with warm fuzzies, but leave him feeling like a professional loser. Envious of journalistic giants like Walter Kronkite, Bruce epitomizes the very essence of discontent. As he puts it, he’s had it with his mediocre job, his mediocre apartment, and his mediocre life.

Finally, after experiencing a series of humiliating setbacks, Bruce loses his wavering control over his emotions and lets loose on the Lord above, who, much to his surprise, answers. Not only does God (Morgan Freeman) hear Bruce’s complaints, in His divine wisdom, He settles on a creative (and often hilarious) way to teach Bruce about what’s valuable in life—He’ll let him try his hand at running the world for a few weeks.

What does our true God say is important in life? Answer

Of course, once Bruce takes over the universe’s greatest responsibility, his limited, selfish human agenda nearly ruins his life and the lives of those who love him, such as his girlfriend Grace. Delightfully played by Jennifer Aniston, Grace is Bruce’s spiritual opposite. She constantly worries over Bruce’s well-being and prays for his happiness on a daily basis.

Lest some of you feel a bit uncomfortable with the idea of watching a man literally shout at God, it might be worth pointing out that such temper tantrums are hardly unusual in the Bible. Even the mighty prophet Elijah had his childish fits when making such pouty statements as, “I have had enough Lord, take my life.” And Jonah, who, when asked by God if he had any right to be angry, audaciously answered, “I do, I am angry enough to die.”

So, foolish and self-indulgent as it may be, rage against God is hardly new, and Bruce’s journey could actually have something very valuable to say to Christians and non-Christians alike about the nature of the Almighty. Despite the precarious undertaking of trying to paint a picture of God using limited human minds and limited human actors, the team behind this film manages to capture some of the Lord’s compelling attributes as revealed through Scripture.

One of the most powerful images of God comes when Bruce tries to patch up the mess he has made of his love life. In a moment of desperation, he asks God, “How do you make someone love you without affecting free will?” To which the Lord replies, “Welcome to my world son.” This and other moments imply that the pain and tragedy so prevalent in our world don’t occur because God doesn’t care, but rather because, in our sin and confusion, we ignore Him and try to find happiness in all the wrong places.

Even when Bruce is at his most self-indulgent and ridiculous, God still treats him with good-humored loving-kindness. The message is that God desires a relationship with mankind, even if we occasionally try His patience.

Bruce also discovers that he is the worst judge of what’s best for his life, and that having all his desires met leads to isolated unhappiness. As the film progresses, we see that God was right to deny Bruce’s selfish requests—an experience that ultimately leads Bruce to fall to his knees in the middle of the highway, crying out, “I want You to decide what’s right for me. I surrender to Your will!”

Families can expect to see typical Jim Carrey-style crude humor, such as watching Bruce use his powers to blow up a woman’s skirt. Also, though Grace is apparently supposed to represent the most “Christian” character, she doesn’t seem to have any moral problem living in sin with Bruce. And, as usual, the movie features a less-than-holy language (including the f-word). I asked director Tom Shadyac, who is a professing Catholic, about these cinematic choices, and though I found his answers thought-provoking, I can’t say I was satisfied with them. Take a look at his interview to see if you agree.

In addition, though the film portrays God’s love, wisdom, and mercy, it does not illustrate his holiness, or, by extension, our need to be redeemed from our sins. And, of course, since it never mentions our need to be redeemed, it likewise never mentions our redeemer, Jesus Christ.

However, unlike most other blockbusters coming out this summer, this film may provide a better than usual opportunity for fruitful witnessing afterward. Like Paul with the Greeks, movies concerning God and his role in our lives give Christ’s followers an opportunity to address the world on its own terms and say, “You know that God that remains unnamed in this film? Well, I do know his name. It’s Jesus, and I’d like to tell you about him.”

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLISHER: There are various issues in this film that will concern those who love and worship the God of the Bible. “God” is used as a straight-man of sorts in this situation comedy, and is portrayed in flesh (shown as a janitor, an electrician, and an executive). Although, thankfully, the actor delivers a mostly dignified and respectful performance, this portrayal of our holy, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator is by nature inherently irreverent and shallow. We wish that all filmmakers would understand that depicting “God” and putting words in his mouth is treading on very dangerous ground and is offensive.

Although, this film certainly shares some good insights and the overall message is better than with most current movies, viewers can potentially come away with a wrong perception of God. This is not the God of the Bible; the character merely shares some similarities. Predictably, with a Hollywood “God,” sin is not an issue. He makes no moral judgments. People are not held accountable. Nor is this the God who sent His son to pay the ultimate penalty on our behalf to save us from the destiny we deserve. As another critic observed, “The only use of Jesus’ name here is as a profanity.” The nature of this god is designed with the intention of being comfortably acceptable to all people.

Of concern to families may be the fairly vulgar and sexual language and references peppered throughout some sections (about average for films these days), including: The name “God” is used in exclamations several times, “Jesus” (once or twice), “Holy Hell,” a few uses of the s-word, a—hole, and cr-p, pr-ck, and one use of a f-word (as mentioned above). The later is also represented repeatedly in one comic scene with Bruce’s middle finger. Bruce uses his “divine” powers from another room to pleasure his girlfriend into obvious sexual ecstasy. Bruce passionately kisses a co-worker in a bedroom. A song called “Bruce So Horny” is briefly mentioned in a TV commercial. A monkey comically pops out of (and then into) a mugger’s anus (not graphic).

Copyright, UniversalSee our EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Director Tom Shadyac—Director of “Bruce Almighty” (2003), Dragonfly (2002), Happy Gilmore (2000), Patch Adams (1998), Liar Liar (1997), “The Nutty Professor” (1996), and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994). Year of Release—2003

See review page on the sequel to this movie: “Evan Almighty

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
“Bruce Almighty” is just a vehicle for Carrey to do his hyperactive shtick. …Upon realizing he’s talking to God, does Bruce think to ask, “What happens when I die?” Of course not. …When Bruce finally mutters something about feeding the hungry and creating peace, God—and the movie—cynically dismisses him for sounding like a Miss America contestant. I dunno: Wouldn’t a fair number of people wave the magic peace-and-food wand in between having their favorite team win the World Series (Bruce doesn’t think of that) and turning themselves into unfathomably rich, lusted-after superheroes (ditto)? It’s stunning how a movie about someone who gets to be the ultimate high-and-mighty could set its sights so low.
—Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune
Positive—I will certainly rate the move excellent for its positive message being put across in a rather unusual way. The director has used comedy to try to deliver a message not only to Christians but also to none Christians alike. The message is simple and clear “God made us and gave us free will.” No matter how much God loves us as his creations, he cannot force us to love him back and I think that fact has been outlined perfectly well in this movie.

About the bad language frequently used here, let not forget about the world we are living in. Cursing is an everyday thing and whether we like it or not, none Christians out there will continue to use such language and it is our responsibility to educate our children that such language is not acceptable according to the word of God. It up to us to decide how we walk our spiritual life and not forget that we do come across all sort of immoral acts as we do so.

Bruce and his girlfriend were living a rather sinful life and finally got married in the end. Let me point out that, although some Christians say that the movie failed to address this issue properly, I beg to differ. Since Bruce had already met God, I am certainly sure this was one way to indicate that he finally realized what he was doing was totally wrong, hence the marriage in the end. This was a story and was addressing certain aspects about God but definitely not all. I m sure if the director wanted to add everything there is to know about our God then the movie will lose its focus. The main points he tried to stress out here was of free-will.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Tim, age 24
Negative—I wish I had never even seen the movie “Bruce Almighty.” It has horrible innuendos that left me, as a Christian and a young woman, shocked. The language is offensive as well, and the fact that Bruce and Grace live together, and God is condoning this sin, was the thing that offended me the most. (Throughout the movie God is portrayed in other ways that does not line up with the Biblical character of God) There was *one* part in the movie that I remember as really funny: Bruce uses his “divine” powers to make a news broadcaster, his worst enemy, talk in ridiculous phrases on set. And even that was done in an act of revenge, which is unChristian in and of itself. This film had its few good sides and messages, but they were spoiled by sin and mockery! I would never recommend this movie to anyone, of any age.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Catherine, age 14
Neutral—I went and saw Bruce Almighty after some careful thought and caution before I went and watched my Lord and Savior laughed at. That is not in the least bit what happened. It was a funny and clever film, which most of it I enjoyed, but you NEED to keep in mind that there were some major points about God that the director left out. The first one (1) is mention of Jesus, which makes all religions with God look like the correct, and it leaves the second point out of the question which is (2) salvation. The movie made it look like there is no need for a one-on-one relationship with God; all we have to do is pray once in a while and,hey, you’re in.” The third point is (3) consequence for sin. Several times in the movie, Bruce sins in front of God, including swearing in his presence, calling him names to his face, and many other disgusting things that are not acceptable, and God, played by Morgan Freeman, ignores the sins or laughes them off. He makes it look like God doesn’t care and sometimes even enjoys it when we swear, as long as we’re happy. And he make no mention of Bruce living with his girlfriend Grace (ironic, huh?). To wrap up, this movie is funny, witty, and lots of laughes, for those who can see the errors of the movie. My personal advice is don’t take anyone who are still forming there ideas about God.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Greg Nelson, age 14
Positive—I felt guilty at first going to see this movie, but I was pleasently surprised. I was amazed at how well it redeemed itself at the end! I was thinking at one point “is Hollywood allowed to say that?” Although I’m disappointed they had to fog up a great message with some sex and language, it was still a good movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Hope, age 15
Positive—I have seen Bruca Almighty Twice and Each time I came away feeling as though God had finally been Shown as the Caring Loving and Nurturing Person that he is. While this movie has its problems mainly the Language and sensuality it shows us all why God is God and not us.I thoroughly enjoyed this movie I laughed a lot (it is Jim Carrey after all)and it made me think about my life and how helping others can make a world of difference.I think Teens and Adults should Make time to see Bruce Almighty It’s a good time with a good message.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Aaron Chapman, age 16
Positive—I went into the movie prepared to be offended. What happened was quite the opposite! I was happy with how the movie portrayed God. Granted, there’s swearing and living in sin; however, that’s real life. It doesn’t mean that God is happy with it, but that’s what’s real. And when Bruce surrendered to God’s will, I thought that was amazing (I cried). I am aware that some major points of Christianity were left out, such as Salvation; however, when you’re trying to reach such a diverse audience that will include many non-Christians, you can’t get too deep all at once as it may scare them off from ever wanting to learn more. But it did well at covering the basics such as God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and a desire to know His children. I believe non-Christians will feel invited to learn more about the real God upon viewing this movie. Furthermore, when Grace is crying and praying for Bruce near the end, I, too, began bawling. Who hasn’t prayed that prayer before? Finally, I found the movie to be generally entertaining. There are very few movies that make me laugh till I hurt, then cry till I’m dried out all in one movie. And this one did it. I hope Christians can be open-minded when viewing this movie, in realizing that not everyone knows or believes in God, and too much more information might’ve been overload. I’m happy that the basics were covered!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Amy, age 26
Positive—I went to see this movie as a skeptic. simply because Jim Carry’s movies are most often crude (though he is very funny, don’t get me wrong), this movie was enjoyed immensely, and the message was clear, direct and positive. I would recommend this movie to a teen or adult.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Christine Jefferies, age 18
Positive—I am an Assistant Chaplain at a High School, and I have to say that this movie provides me with great fodder for teaching about the character of God and our expectations of Him. The students also love the movie and are keen to watch it! I have read some of the negative reviews where people seem to be concerned that some vital points of Christianity are left out, but at the end of the day, it’s just a Hollywood movie, which has never set out to tell the whole Christian story. I think that it’s a thought provoking movie which makes some really insightful points on things like prayer, the character of God, free will, the wisdom of God, etc. Yes, it doesn’t present the entire gospel message, but I think it’s a movie which can provide great opportunities for sharing your faith.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—KM, age 22
Negative—Although the film it self can be quite humorous to the secular world, and to any unbeliever/believers, I found this to be quite offensive for Christians. Aside from not mentioning Jesus Christ at all… we can see already this is not the God of the Bible, and the movie has tons of mockery. It is definitely not Gospel centered, at all.

Bruce seems to hate everything that’s going on in his life, and yells/blames God a majority of the time. Examples of Mockery:—Bruce turning on candles saying “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3)—Bruce parting his soup at a diner, like Moses with the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:21)—Bruce wipes the clouds away, paints in the sky, controls the weather. (Jonah 1:4, Psalm 42:7, Genesis 6:5-9:19, I Kings 8:35-36)—Bruce telling the Dog to pee in the toilet, and the Dog obeyed instantly. (Luke 8:22-25) This shows us how the secular world views God, and [He] seems limited in power. They make God seem so WEAK, by mocking such things. As if the only way you know its from God or use God-Like powers is to mock what’s in the Bible. And use events that happened and apply them when you have God’s attributes or at least ONE of them. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—James, age 27 (USA)
Negative—Bruce Almighty is a very bad movie disrespecting god, and often bad use of language and should be MA-15 plus. It shows the use of middle finger and has a bad sexual scene and is insulting and should not be watched by anyone, it also goes against the aspects and belief of Christianity and many Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Ezra, age 15 (Malaysia)
Movie Critics
…a wildly funny film …liberally uses profanity, sexual references, and crudity… wobbles on the “tastefulness” tightrope, but still manages to send a decent, God-loving message… the spiritual messages being delivered by the film are ones which Christians will especially recognize and support.
—Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
Coarse jokes, foul language and sexual situations… Ads for “Bruce Almighty” have had many Christians afraid that it may be an irreverent hack job… Jim Carrey’s comedy has problems, but bald-faced disrespect toward God and people of faith isn’t one of them. …paints an incomplete picture of God’s character.
—Bob Smithouser, Plugged In (Focus on the Family)
…can be as raucously crude as the “Ace Ventura” movies… The jokes, even the most obvious ones, are really funny. …Morgan Freeman and Carrey are criminally funny together, playing off each other like a classic vaudeville team. …“Bruce Almighty” is the feel-good movie by which all this year’s other feel-good movies will be measured.
—Eanor Ringel Gillespie, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…manages to be both funny and reverential about spirituality, and Carrey works his every comic lick to capitalize on the material. The strain sometimes shows; those who don’t much care for the man’s patented form of manic mugging will find nothing here to convert them.
—Margaret A. McGurk, The Cincinnati Enquirer
…thanks to three writers and six producers—ends up being the kind of lame story we expect from daytime TV and mass-produced movies… “Bruce Almighty” recalls the superior “Groundhog Day” in many ways—oddball powers, love affair, main character who comes to terms with his own egomania—but “Groundhog” has sophistication while Bruce plays it for cheap laughs. …I can’t help but recommend it.
—Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com